Two US Navy guided missile destroyers passed through the Bosporus Strait and entered the Black Sea bordering Russia on Friday in what was described as a “proactive” presence mission, according to USNI News.
“Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive,” US 6th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Christopher Grady said in a statement. “We operate at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region. By nature, ships are flexible, mobile forces.”
The deployment of the USS Ross and the USS Carney comes against a backdrop of heightened US tensions with Russia. US prosecutors on Friday indicted 13 Russian citizens for their alleged role in an online operation to spread misinformation during the US 2016 presidential campaign.
The patrol by the US warships also follows a February 7 incident in Syria in which hundreds of Russian mercenaries working for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were reportedly killed by US air strikes after attacking a base held by US forces and their allies in Syria. The Kremlin says only five of its nationals were killed in the assault.
The Black Sea has also seen increasingly tense air confrontations between US and Russian military aircraft in the last few years.
USNI News noted the Ross and the Carney entered the Black Sea on the fourth anniversary of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. The games occurred as tensions were rising between Moscow and the West over the crisis in Ukraine.
However, this isn’t the first time that US Navy ships have patrolled the Black Sea. The US 6th Fleet says it sent two ships into the Black Sea in July 2017 as part of a joint exercise with Ukrainian naval forces.